Fashion tips – message from the 18th century

Found a very cute and interesting blog via 18th Century Blog. It’s called History of American Women – 18th Century and it’s about what it says it’s about; go figure! ;P It’s filled with beautiful paintings for us lazy  peop’s. And for you with a lot of time on your hands, the author “B” provides a vast mass of text with background in primary sources about being a woman in the 18th century.
   While browsing through the blog very quickly my eyes stuck on a passage of text (my eyes tend to do that when the form looks like a poem)… It turns out it’s three 18th century texts about women’s fashion:

London’s monthly Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure ridiculed the constant changes in female fashion,

Now dress’d in a cap, now naked in none;
Now loose in a mob, now close in a Joan;
Without handkerchief now, and now buried in ruff;
Now plain as a Quaker, now all in a puff;
Now a shape in neat stays, now a slattern in jumps
Now high in French heels, now low in your pumps;
Now monstrous in hoops, now trapish, and walking
With your petticoats clung to your heels like a maulkin;
Like the cock on the tower, that shows you the weather,
You are hardly the same for two days together.

In 1754, a New York newspaper published the satirical view of the extravagance of women’s fashion from a poem published in 1753 in London.


Hang a small bugle cap on as big as a crown,
Snout it off with a flower, vulgo dict. a pompoon;
Let your powder be grey, and braid up your hair
Like the mane of a colt, to be sold at a fair.
A short pair of jumps half an ell from your chin,
To make you appear like one just lying in;
Before, for your breast, put a stomacher bib on
Ragout it with cutlets of silver and ribbon.
Your neck and your shoulders both naked should be,
Was it not for Vandyke blown with Chevaux de Frize.
Let your gown be a sack, blue, yellow, or green,
And frizzle your elbows with ruffles sixteen;
Furl off your lawn aprons with flounces in rows,
Puff and pucker up knots on your arms and your toes;
Make your petticoats short, that a hoop eight yards wide
May decently show how your garters are tied.
With fringes of knotting, your dicky cabob
On slippers of velvet set gold a-la-daube.
But mount on French heels when you go to a ball,
‘Tis the fashion to totter and shew you can fall;
Throw modesty out from your manners and face,
A-la-mode de Frangois you’re a bit for his Grace.

In 1756, a New York newspaper offered this satirical fashion advice, 

The dress of the year 55 that was worn
Is laid in the grave and new fashions are born:
Then hear what your good correspondents advance,
‘Tis the Pink of the Mode and dated from France:
Let your cap be a butterfly slightly hung on
Like the shell of a lapwing just hatch’d on her crown
Behind, with a coach horse short dock, cut your hair
Stick a flower before Screw-whiff ‘with an air,
A Vandicke in frize your neck must surround,
Turn your lawns into gauze, let your Brussels be blond;
Let your stomacher reach from shoulder to shoulder,
And your breast will appear much fairer and bolder.
Wear a gown or a sack as fancies prevail,
Hut with flounces and furbelows ruffle your tail.
Let your hoop show your stockings & legs to your knees,
And leave men as little as may be to guess.
For other small ornaments, do as before,
Wear ribbons a hundred and ruffles a score;
Let your tail, like your dress, be fantastic and odd,
And then you’ll show a way in taste A-la-mode.

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